NYC shark bite victim needed five surgeries and was left with ‘permanent disability’

The woman who was attacked by a shark at a beach in New York City earlier this month has already endured five surgeries – and will require more.

Tatyana Koltunyuk, 65, was bitten on 7 August, an incident that will require years of “intense physical therapy and close medical monitoring, during which time she will have significantly limited mobility,” her daughter Darya Koltunyuk wrote on a GoFundMe page. She added that the injury “has left her with a permanent disability.”

The page, “Tatyana Koltunyuk’s Shark Attack Recovery,” has since raised over $72,000 as of 21 August.

Ms Koltunyuk was swimming alone in the ocean at Rockaway Beach when a shark bit her left leg, the city parks department said in a statement. The bite left a gaping wound several inches wide and deep. Two lifeguards fashioned together a tourniquet, using sweatpants and rope from an orange rescue float, to stop the bleeding.

She was rushed to Jamaica Hospital where she was listed in stable condition, a hospital spokesperson previously told The Independent.

The GoFundMe page said that the shark bite victim emigrated to the United States from Ukraine with her husband and then-three3-year-old daughter in the 1990s. Tragically, Ms Koltunyuk’s husband died of a heart attack only a few weeks after arriving, her daughter wrote.

“The language barrier prevented my mom from continuing her career as a marine engineer, but she worked tirelessly to support our family,” her daughter wrote, adding that Ms Koltunyuk “made sure that I could take ballet lessons and piano lessons and have the best possible education.”

Tatyana Koltunyuk will need more surgeries and physical therapy following a gruesome shark bite in Rockaway Beach (GoFundMe)
Tatyana Koltunyuk will need more surgeries and physical therapy following a gruesome shark bite in Rockaway Beach (GoFundMe)

When she was bitten by the shark, she was “eagerly anticipating her retirement, when she could — for the first time in her life — take a break.” The daughter continued, “She talked about swimming in the ocean every day.”

“My husband and I will do everything in our power to make her retirement as comfortable and enjoyable as we possibly can, but the road ahead will be extremely challenging for her and for our family,” Darya Koltunyuk said.

Ms Koltunyuk’s bite appeared to be the most serious shark attack in New York waters since at least the 1950s, Gavin Naylor, the program director of the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida, told the Associated Press. “This is a very severe injury from something that’s powerful and unambiguous,” he added. “It’s very deliberate.”

Shark sightings and minor bites have become more frequent in the state’s waters.

In a statement following the incident, NYC Parks Department wrote: “We hope for a full recovery for this swimmer. Though this was a frightening event, we want to remind New Yorkers that shark bites in Rockaway are extremely rare. We remain vigilant in monitoring the beach and always clear the water when a shark is spotted… Prior to today, we have no reports of shark bites on Rockaway Beach in recent memory.”